Helllppp! 2016 Honey moon indecision

Old Feb 28th, 2016, 08:48 AM
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Helllppp! 2016 Honey moon indecision

So a few of you really helped me chose my 2016 honeymoon location a few months back (Especially RoamsAround). I had decided on Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda. Well all of that was great until LDB decided to close down this summer for renovations. So from there we were back at square one. LDB was the only resort I really knew about on VG so we didn't really consider VG anymore. Also getting to VG is a Beech, airfare wise. We then were all in for Hawaii but after alot of research it seems that going to Maui in July is a bit of a rip off. If you want to stay at a very nice resort it is $700+ a night with taxes and fees. Plus I read that the food and drink is outrageous. However we have not totally ruled out Hawaii.

So with all this being said we have now opened up our search but have narrowed it down a bit. My boss has offered to pay for our hotel on honeymoon so our overall budget is now about $10,500 for 7 days. We do not want to pay more than $650 a night including taxes and fees. Snorkeling is important to me (but i havnt been in a while so any would probably thrill me) as well as beautiful water and great food. My fiance likes the islands with more topography and hiking trails, lush is a plus. Though any comments on islands is appreciated. We are considering the following:

1. Antigua: Water here is beautiful, resorts look great. Carlisle Bay, Blue Waters, and Galley Bay. Beaches and topography look great too. Can't tell if the snorkeling is any good. How is the food?

2. St. John: If Caneel Bay was a nicer resort I would chose St. John in a heartbeat. It seems to be somewhat lush, has great topography, hiking trails, awesome snorkeling, and beautiful water. Problem is we do not like the whole "rundown and minimalist is better" that Caneel offers. We are on our honeymoon and want SOME luxury. If there is another luxury resort that is worth mentioning please let me know because I love St. John. Are there enough options for eating on this Island?

3. Belize: I know the least about this option. I just know the snorkeling is great, the mainland has the rain forest and Mayan ruins, etc. Last time I was there was when I was 5. I remember it as fun and exotic with howler monkeys. More info on this would be great. Spots near snorkeling are a plus.

4. St Lucia: Nixed this option a few months back because I noticed the resorts did not get great reviews, the water was not a pretty, and restaurants also did not get great reviews. If someone disagrees please speak up.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 09:53 AM
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Maybe this will help:

1) On Antigua Carlisle Bay and Galley Bay outshine Blue Waters. We stayed at GB numerous times. Rooms are nice - opt for the Premium Beachfront Suites if your budget allows (rates shown on website are for All inclusive package so don't know how that would fit with your boos's offer to pay for room). Food is very good at GB. Carlisle Bay is newer resort - haven't dined there so can't comment on food. FYI - Snorkeling at either Carlisle Bay or Galley Bay is almost non-existent. Walk-in snorkeling is not a strong suit anywhere on Antigua. Best snorkeling is accessible only by boat. For what it is worth, Antigua is not one of my more favored island. I rate it as a "B" vs, say Virgin Gorda and St. john which I rate as "A+".

2) Caneel Bay is a very nice resort but rooms are somewhat spartan. The rest of the resort (grounds and common building) are attractive. Unfortunately, you won't find "Luxury" at any of the other resorts on the island. The only other major resort is the Westin but it is NOT what you are looking for and Gallows Bay (third best on the island) doesn't really have a beach. Stay at Caneel if you can live with simple rooms. Other alternative is to rent a high end villa but you won't find any that are beachfront and you won't have 'resort amenities". There's plenty of dining options around the island to allow you a variety during a typical 7 to 10 day stay.

3) Belize is not my cup of tea. For me the best part of Belize was seeing it in the rear view mirror as we drove away. If you are looking for luxury check out Cayo Espanto - IMO it's the only resort that has the "luxury" you are seeking. I'll let others comment on Belize.

4) St. Lucia is the most mountainous and lushest island on your short list. For luxury look at Anse Chastenet, Ladara or Jade Mountain - all other resorts are "also rans". The island has darker sand beaches (think shades of grey, brown and even black. There is only one "light sand" beach on the island and it is man-made. Snorkeling around the island is limited but some of those sites are quite good. It a big island (240 sq. miles - much bigger than any of the other places on your list except Belize) so saying its restaurants don't get great reviews is unfair. There are over 250 restaurants around the island, some of which are quite good. The biggest obstacle is to dining out is where you are staying in relation to where you want to dine. Distances can be far and some places difficult to reach in a reasonable amount of travel time.

I don't mean to confuse you (and forgive me if you've already nixed some of the suggestions) but have you looked at Anguilla? There are several high end resorts (Viceroy, Cuisinart, the newly renovated Malliouhana or Frangipani come to mind. The island boasts 35 sparkling white sand beaches and 80+ restaurants (some among the best in the Caribbean). The only concession will be the island is rather flat.

Also, not sure if it fits your budget but look at Sandy Lane on Barbados, one of the top luxury resorts in the Caribbean. Barbados will have the light sand beaches, clear waters, decent snorkeling and topography you crave.

Lastly, check out Peter Island Resort, Peter Island, BVI's - Private Island resort, a short boat ride from Tortola. Very romantic, good food, hiking trails, both on-site and off-resort snorkeling. It has the WOW factor you want.

Good luck finding your honeymoon dream spot.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 09:56 AM
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One other comment - the more mountainous the island is, the lusher it will be. Flip-side - the more mountainous an island the less snorkeling it will have. Unfortunately you can't really have both.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 10:57 AM
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Thanks Roams! As usual you have pretty good insight from your travel experiences. I am also still considering Hawaii but it is just so damn expensive. I would have already booked a Caribbean island but for a couple of issues. To get to alot of the smaller islands it is almost as expensive as flying to Hawaii and the total travel time is not much less. We fly out of Houston. Also I noticed that even though July is the offseason, the room rates are not that much less expensive in the Caribbean than in Hawaii in July. My fiance is just a little too focused on the topography and "waterfalls" on an island. I love to go to the Rockies in the summer. But if I am going to go to a tropical island I want the water, beaches, and snorkeling to be top notch.

With your advice I am going to check out Anguilla. I am also intrigued by Peter Island on the BVIs. I will report back what we narrow it down to further.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 10:59 AM
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Also I meant to ask, is there decent snorkeling on Peter Island? Will we be totally stranded on Peter Island or is transportation to the main islands pretty easy?
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 12:02 PM
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Yes, there is some decent snorkeling off of Peter Island's beaches and lots of very good snorkeling you can access by short boat trips from the island. Hint: take an excursion to snorkel the Indians and/or the Caves at Norman Island - two very good snorkel sites just a short boat ride from Peter Island. Well worth the time & cost.

The resort provides "ferry/launch service" to Tortola and you can also arrange for private boats to take you to other nearby islands/cays (for a nominal fee). They also offer several a number of different excursions for snorkeling and other activities (again for nominal fees). FYI - once on Tortola you can take public ferry to several other islands.

Coincidently, we just got back from a few days in Hawaii. You probably won't find what you are seeking on Oahu as it is pretty built up lots of high rise hotels in Honolulu and Waikiki. No real luxury hotel on other side of the island since closure of JW Marriott. IMO best luxury hotel/resort on Oahu is the Kahala, located 10 miles or so northeast of Honolulu (5 miles or so from Diamond Head). You might be better off going to Maui, Lanai or one of the other "outer" islands but that will entail additional airfare and travel time.

One average Hawaii is a very expensive destination so your budget won't go as far and you might have to compromise on that luxury hotel you desire.

I wouldn't get too hung up on waterfalls. No matter where you go they will usually not be near the resorts (unless they are man-made landscaping features). Instead they will either be deep in the rain forests and are difficult to reach or easily accessible "tourist traps" that you view from a nearby overlook with dozens, if not hundreds, of your fellow travelers. It is rare you'll discover a secluded waterfall. Most will be ones you stop at for a couple of minutes before moving on to a more interesting attraction. I like waterfalls as much as anyone but most aren't worth the extra time and effort it takes to get to them.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 12:25 PM
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You seem like a very nice person so let me give you another tip on how to make your travel budget go further and still get the luxury you desire.

Most resorts have a number of different room categories. Many times the rooms themselves are the same but location and view drive the price.

Now, think about how much time you'll actually be spending in your room. Unless you are a bit of a recluse you'll spent 8 to 12 hours out of your room. Most of your remaining time in the room will be spent sleeping, in the bathroom and/or engaging in adult activities (especially if you are on your honeymoon) meaning your shades/blinds will be closed thus blocking your "view". You can save quite a bit of money opting for a garden or mountain view vs. an ocean view yet you will still have full access to all the resorts amenities. Just something to think about.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 12:47 PM
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Roams,

Thank you so much for the feedback. After looking at the Peter Island Resort I am very interested. I plan to present the Peter Island vacation as one option and the Maui as another. They would offer two distinct experiences and it all depends on what we are looking for.

Obviously getting to Peter Island will be more trouble than getting to Maui. We have to fly into Tortola (which has two stops from Houston) or we have to fly into St. Thomas (1 stop). From both we take water taxi to PI. The total travel time would not be too much less than Hawaii. Shortest travel would be flying to St. Thomas with one stop and then take taxi. But of course the resort does not service St. Thomas on Monday which is our travel day.

Peter Island looks amazing and checks most of our boxes. The only negative I could see is it looks like there are only 2-3 total restaurants on the island. I will need to check how much they charge to ferry us from the resort to Tortola. If it is complimentary then all is good. If it is $85 per person per trip then that could get a tad pricey. But either way thank you for making me aware of this resort. It is a really good option.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 02:15 PM
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Also. You have been to both Peter Island and Maui I assume. If it were you which would you chose for your honeymoon? Also after alot of careful calculating it seems Peter Island is significantly less expensive than Maui. So that leaves us more money to spend on ferry rides, excursions, food, etc.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 04:40 PM
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I am also looking at possible doing 3 nights on Tortola and then 4 night at PIR. That way we will not run the risk of getting bored on PI since there are only two restaurants for dinner and no bars stay open past 10pm. What are your top picks for Tortola?
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 06:36 PM
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Hahaha, maybe I should pay you to be my travel agent as well. It looks like Frenchman and Surfsong are the only luxury resorts on Tortola. Not sure if they are worth it. Also what are your thoughts on Scrub Island Resort?
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Old Feb 29th, 2016, 05:43 AM
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First, let's clarify something since you keep mentioning the number of restaurants & bars. Peter Island (PI) is a private island resort - it's the ONLY thing on the island so no matter which venue dine/drink at it will still be at the resort and eating/drinking their food. That's not necessarily a bad thing - the food is excellent, the drinks are cold and you get a feeling of seclusion and exclusivity. What more do you need? If you want or need access to a lot of restaurants, bars and wild night life you are going to the wrong island. Try St. Martin, Aruba, Cancun or Cozumel.

Second, as a caveat you should know I'm way past the partying age so staying up past 10PM is a challenge and therefore you'll need advice from others if you crave lots of night life. Best I can tell you is to visit Bomba Shack on Tortola if you happen to be their during their full moon party but you'll NEVER find me there.

Third, Scrub Island is also a private island resort so concerns about getting back/forth to Tortola are similar to PI. If you go off resort you have to be back before 10:30PM as that's when their launch service stops.

Fourth, you have to decide for yourself whether to go to Maui or the Caribbean. One is not better than the other they are just different places and as they say in France, Vive L'difference! You are going on your honeymoon, you'll have a great time in any location.

Fifth, I have no top resort picks on Tortola. It's not an island I stay on. I prefer to stay on other islands in the BVI' but that's me, not you.

Sixth, some people like to split their time between two places but for me, if I'm just going for a week I'd stay at one resort rather than pack-up in mid-trip to go to an island a couple of miles away that I can just as easily visit for a day trip. Remember, you'll lose time changing hotels. You'll have to check-out of one place (usually before 11AM) and you can't check-in to the other place until 3PM or 4PM (unless you pay for an extra night. Quite frankly I never could understand the fascination some people have with changing hotels just for the sake of it. It's what I call "Are the palm trees greener and the sand prettier on the other island" syndrome. Again, this is your choice but I wouldn't do it unless there was a very significant difference in the two islands and I had more time. For example, say going for two weeks and staying on Anguilla (a flat arid island) and then going on to Dominica (a very mountainous & lush island) - different types of islands in different locations.

Seventh, no need to pay me for travel advice. Instead, repay by sharing your experiences and the knowledge you gain while traveling with people who need your help on this and other travel forums.
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Old Feb 29th, 2016, 06:35 AM
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Thanks Roams. I will be 29 on our honeymoon and she will be 28. We are young but not big party people AT ALL. We wouldn't be going to Tortola for the bars but rather for a change up in dining. After alot of consideration it seems that Peter Island may have a slight edge on Scrub due to its beaches and service reputation. I think I would have a blast on any BVI because water sports are my thing. Whether it be snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, boating, or diving (never gone diving). The topography on Peter Island also looks like it has some nice hiking trails. But Maui may be a better compromise for my fiance and I. She craves more of the lushness of the mountains, hiking, on-shore excursions, etc. The Fairmont there would not be secluded like PIR but it would offer more creature comforts and there would be more dining options. Both are very different styles. Either one would be fun so hopefully we can come to a decision this week. Thanks for the input.
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Old Feb 29th, 2016, 08:46 AM
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Argh, I think I'm more frustrated than you about Little Dix Bay -- I think it would have been perfect.

I've never been to Peter Island, but it seems like a good back up. I agree with Roams to not split up the stay. I think it's more hassle than it's worth for a week's vacation. Nothing better on Tortola, though I would suggest Sugar Mill if you need to overnight somewhere on the "mainland," as the other BVI islanders call Tortola.

I think the key to avoiding any potential boredom on Peter Island is to get off island for a couple of excursions to places like Baths/Virgin Gorda, the Indians for snorkeling, and a painkiller at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke.

We hung out at Sugar Beach and Anse Chastenet beach St. Lucia on a cruise stop and were blown away. Just what your fiance wants in terms of topography, though with dark sand beaches. But I wonder if you would get better value for your money, and better service, going to Hawaii. I've never been, so I can't suggest anything there.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 29th, 2016, 11:59 AM
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Jimmie said "...But I wonder if you would get better value for your money, and better service, going to Hawaii..."

Unfortunately luxury in Hawaii comes at a very high cost. Hawaii is a very expensive island destinations, more so than most Caribbean islands.
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Old Mar 1st, 2016, 06:13 PM
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I agree you should look at Anguilla. In July, Cap Juluca (my favorite) and CuisinArt have specials that should fit your budget.
If you are looking at St. Lucia, I stayed at Calabash Cove. It was in the north so can't see the Pitons from he hotel, but it was a beautiful hotel with a nice beach
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Old Mar 19th, 2016, 01:24 PM
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I have to TOTALLY disagree with the comments about St. Lucia. Where did the people who made those comments visit? Which beaches? Which restaurants? Some of the restaurants there are not only very good, they are outstanding. For example, Spice of India, Big Chef Steakhouse and Tapas (and there are others). I have traveled all over the world and these rate right up there with many out there. A most unfair statement about restaurants. In any country you will find some that do not match up but such a sweeping statement is most unreasonable.

I would not even bother to comment about the sea water. Black sand is volcanic and is located for the most part in the Soufriere area (Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts) and Le Sport. There is white sand at the southernmost tip and there are golden-hued sandy beaches like Reduit in the Rodney Bay area. By the way, what is wrong with black sand anyway? It's not dirty but just a different colour.

It all comes down to the type of vacation you are looking for. Without doubt, St. Lucia is the most stunningly beautiful and enchanting island of them all.
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Old Mar 19th, 2016, 02:29 PM
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You can view some of the pictures that I personally took of Reduit Beach (as an example) and you can judge for yourself.

Go to www.vrbo.com (ID# 564559) and click on "PHOTOS".
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Old Mar 24th, 2016, 03:26 PM
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We stayed at Caneel on our honeymoon on St John and it was amazing. Worth a little more research into. We traveled back for our one year anniversary. This may, we are headed to Peter Island for our 10 year anniversary. We were booked at LDB since October and were notified in January that they were closing right before we were planned to arrive. I was pissed to say the least because it seemed to have everything we wanted. We felt pressured to book at PI before doing research bc LDB was SOLD OUT the week we we traveling and we know that all of those displaced travelers would also be looking for alternative arrangements due to their closing. Well what I thought was going to be the consolation prize looks as if it is going to be amazing! The reviews are very good and I don't think you can go wrong with Peter Island especially for a honeymoon. We plan to fly into Tortola (our departing city is ft Lauderdale so the trip is quick with one stop in PR before landing in Tortola) spend the day before heading to PI to have lunch and purchase alcohol ��.
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Old Mar 31st, 2016, 08:15 PM
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I have to jump in. First, congrats on your wedding. Planning the honeymoon is fun! Enjoy it.

I did Hawaii on my honeymoon. Kauai. It was beautiful. But not worth the effort to get there from east coast. I do want to go back someday. But, I've been sailing in the BVI's, and spent time on Peter Island-spa was wonderful and have had good friends honeymoon there. You can take excursions. The Indians-some of best snorkeling I've ever experienced. And snorkeling into the caves was awesome around the way from it. The food is good at PI and please don't feel like you are missing out on food in the rest of the BVI. It's not known as a foodie destination. Go to Anguilla for that. But you might need a painkiller at Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke and that can be arranged anywhere in bvi for a day sail.

I wouldn't feel like you need to stay on Tortola. But that is just me.

For more adventure-look at Bitter End Yacht Club in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. Tons to do on water and all included water adventures. You'll want to be in water-it is HOT down there. Hiking trails right behind it. Free ferries that take you all around the North Sound (bars and different places to eat) including the mainland Virgin Gorda where you can rent a car for the day and explore all those beautiful beaches you'll miss from LDB closing. It won't be your typical luxury. More "rustic" luxury. But I get bored easily.

The BVIs are very laid back. For your lady, I took all these dresses and cute shoes. End of trip was in flip flops and shorts. With my hair wet. But then again, I wasn't on my honeymoon-that was our 10 yr anniversary So if your fiancé wants to get fancy, this might not be her place. I'd think PI you would dress up a bit more for dinner. They do have a dress code at their restaurant.

Yes getting there is 1/2 the fun. Landing on a dirt runway is too. Island Birds or Fly BVI to VG or Tortola. Not Air Sunshine. Or ferry from St Thomas. Done all above-just whatever works for you.
Best Wishes!
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